The newly appointed U.S. Marshal of this district signalized the commencement of his official career yesterday morning, by the successful arrest of five runaway slaves––a negro, his wife, and three children.

            These negroes escaped some time ago from their owners, Mr. Patterson and Mr. Vale, of St. Louis county Missouri. Of course, it was expected they would make their way out of Chicago, and hither the owners came in pursuit of them. They succeeded about a week ago in discovering their retreat; but were unable to do anything then, as there was no Marshal to execute a writ. After Mr. Jones came into office, the owners of the negroes proceeded to Springfield, and obtained a warrant from S.A. Corneau, U.S. Commissioner, directed to the Marshal of the Northern district. In the body of the warrant the negroes were so minutely described that any person might easily recognize them.

            The warrant was delivered to Marshal Jones last Monday, and his deputy, Mr. George L. Webb was designated to execute it. Mr. Webb determined at once that the affair should not prove a fiasco, and made his arrangements accordingly. At the same time, there was no unnecessary expansion–no summoning of secret posse comitatus–no “fuss and feathers.” A locomotive with an emigrant car was to be in readiness to leave St. Louis railway station punctually at 6½ P.M.–and that was all.

            Shortly before six o’clock yesterday morning, Mr. Webb, accompanied by two or three friends, proceeded to the house on Clark street, three doors from Jackson, where the negroes were domiciled, in the third story. The man––called Harris, or Johnson––was found in his room just getting up. As soon as he beheld his visitors, he divined the object of their visit, and commenced resistance. For several minutes he fought like a tiger, his wife joining him in the combat, while their little ones ran screaming and crying about the room. In the fight the deputy marshal received a pretty severe wound on the hand, but not sufficient to disable him. The negro and his wife were quickly subdued, and the former placed in irons. They were then taken down stairs, put in a hackney coach, and driven to the car that was waiting to receive them. The car left the depot at half past six, and in forty minutes had passed the city of Joliet. The negroes were taken to Springfield, where an examination was had in accordance with law, yesterday, and the slaves were ordered into the custody of their owner.

            The news in this city, and in less than twenty minutes after the Marshal left the house, it was surrounded by a large and excited crowd of Africans, swearing the direst description of vengeance upon the officers and all concerned. The story was quickly told, how a negro had gone to the house that night, and desired to lodge there; how the occupants had objected, yet upon his persisting, had acquiesced; how this negro had arisen at an unusually early hour in the morning, and gone down stairs to open the door and let the officer in. The negroes soon fixed upon one Hayes, who drives an express wagon, as the African Judas in question. Just then Hayes came along, the enraged mob flew upon him, but he succeeded in escaping by running into a second-hand clothing shop, making his exit by the back door.

            Foiled in their desire of vengeance in this direction, the negroes rushed pell mell towards Bridgeport, hoping to intercept the train upon which they supposed the fugitives would be taken away at the bridge crossing they made a stand, and again collected to the number of several hundred. The train to approach was the nine o’clock passenger train, the negroes not being aware that a special train had carried their comrades away more than two hours before. Their first effort was to make the flagman show a white flag, a signal for the train to stop; but the flagman refused to do any such thing. The negroes then declared they would stop it, and for this purpose spread themselves out across the track, believing, probably that by their combined efforts they would butt the locomotive off the track! But when the train approached, the engineer, seeing a great crowd of negroes on the track, simply opened the cylinder cocks of his engine, and gave them a double broadside of steam and hot water, which speedily cleared the way. As the train was passing, one of the negroes fired his revolver at the engineer, but did not hit him. If that negro can be identified, he should be arrested and punished with the upmost severity of the law.

            Again defeated in their purposes, the negroes returned, with renewed determination to take vengeance upon the negro Hayes. Shortly before noon, word was brought to the south district police station that the negroes in large force had surrounded the house of Hayes, at the corner of Wells and Taylor streets, with the determination of killing him. A posse of six men was immediately sent to the spot with directions to bring the negro to the Armory, for better security. Word was also sent to the north and west stations for reinforcements. The posse found the house of Hayes surrounded by a crowd of between two and three hundred negroes, armed with clubs, knives, pistols, shot guns, and other utensils of war. Their cry was, “Kill him! Kill de dam darkey!” They had obtained a ladder, and with it were endeavoring to get into the house through an upper window, in which they would have soon succeeded had not the police arrived to interfere with their designs. The infuriated negro mob was soon scattered by the police, like a flock of black sheep. Only a few more courageous than the rest, lingered near the house. The negro Hayes was then brought down and conducted towards the Armory, the mob of negroes following at a respectful distance. On the way, the posse were met by reinforcement from the north and west divisions, and, with this additional force, seven of the ringleaders in the riot––six males and one female––were arrested. They were brought before Esquire Aiken, who discharged the female, and admitted the others to special bail, to appear on Friday next. They gave the following names: Franklin Johnson, John Barriday Abraham Thompson, Charles Johnson, William Lee. Allen Pinkerton became surety for their appearance.

––Chicago Post, April 4th.


FUGITIVE SLAVE IN CHICAGO. We are informed upon undoubted authority than an association embracing men of all political opinions, except abolitionism, has been organized in this city within the past few weeks, whose object is to stand by the United States Marshal in thorough and rigid enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law. The association numbers about six hundred men, all goof and substantial citizens. They intend to prove, and we doubt not will succeed in proving, that the Fugitive Slave Law not only can be, but will be, enforced under a Republican administration by Republican officers. If the signs of the times indicate anything, there will be fewer runaway negroes in Chicago six months hence than there are now.––Ibid.




Departure of over One Hundred Fugitives for Canada!––Great Excitement, and Moving Scenes!!


The United States Marshal and his standing advertisement that he has fully equipped his office in the city with fellows of the right kidney, and is now willing to answer all orders, and catch all runaways, guarenteeing promptness and dispatch in so doing, has created a wonderful state of feeling among our colored citizens, to which we have before referred. In saloons and bar-rooms about town, the zealous Federal officer is praised, but good men and humane hang their heads, Republicans finding this one more consolation in the matter,––just this, that the Marshal does well to choose his tools from the party that has always kept blood-hounds in leash, ready at the slave-driver’s beck and bidding. No Republican has yet, we believe received an appointment of the Marshal.

There has been an immense state of excitement among the colored people; generally, as a class, our most quiet citizens; and the actual presence of numerous slave-hunters in town, and the knowledge that several writs were in officers’ hands, has created a perfect stampeded among the numerous fugitive residents here. Within the week ending with Sunday last, nearly three hundred people of color, from this city, have sought refuge in Canada. We give the above figure on the best authority, as the outside limit, for the reason that the number is greatly exaggerated by rumor, and accounts rife about town.

And, indeed, this is no inconsiderable number to have left one community within a week for a new home and liberty in the Queen’s dominions. Many of them had been for years resident among us, and not a few were comfortably maintaining themselves in vocations useful to the community. Some of them had here secured by their industry homes of their own, and were living rebukes on the libel that these people “cannot take care of themselves.” But the fate of the Harris family was too marked and too recent, and the Marshal and his assistants, and bogus police officers, quite too eager at man-hunting, and so the stampede began. Many were able to pay their own way to a land of Freedom: still more were aided by the charitable to the means requisite for their transportation to Canadian soil.

All through last week, they left in parties of from four to twelve or fifteen, quietly, and without attracting attention. These went by the regular trains, and generally at second class fares. There was, however, a large share of those for whom an early departure was deemed prudent, who were still in town when the week closed. A party of thirty were concealed for several days in the hold of a schooner, whose destination was the other side of the lake, but which was wind-bound in this harbor. Sunday came, and found upwards of one hundred pressing and anxious to go, for whose transportation, late in the week, preparations were made in the contract with the Michigan Southern Railroad, to take them through to Detroit in freight, caboose cars, at an average of $2 apiece.

Sunday was memorable by such an exodus as no city in the United States ever saw before. While the church-bells were calling our congregation to praise and prayer, the same was the signal for a great gathering at the Baptist Church on the corner of Buffalo street and Edina Place, most remarkable in its character. The house, a neat sturdy structure erected by our colored residents, was densely packed. The services were impressive and deeply affecting.  The occasion was to be the farewell of the one hundred and fifteen who were to leave by the train at 6 P.M., for Canada. That quarter of the city is largely inhabited by colored residents, on Edina Place and Buffalo Street, and these were out in full force. The peculiarly demonstrative characteristics of the race had their full measure of display. They wept, they embraced one another, prayed together, sang together, and passed from house to house giving words of parting. Many of the better class brought from their home provisions for the store of these poor pilgrims, many little trinkets and keepsakes were exchanges, and God bless you’s and good byes––very like white folk, under similar circumstances––and at Delft Haven it might have been nearly the same, very like indeed.

The Michigan Southern train was to leave at 6 P.M., the regular passenger train with the four chartered freight cars attached; and in these latter, as the hour of parting drew near, they commenced stowing themselves. Each car was supplied with a cask of water and substantial provisions, boiled beef, hams, beans, bread, and apples. Some of the party were old, but most of them were young men in their prime, as the class obviously most likely to run the risk of fleeing slavery. There were quite a number of young families going, to save the children from sharing the fate of a s slave mother.

One poor woman, for whom writs, it was known, were made out some days since, was brought down on a mattress, on a dray, dangerously ill, but determined to brave all for Freedom. A sick child was conveyed in the arms of its father. The women, many of them, were weeping among the crowd of lookers-on. Quite a number of liberty-loving Germans did not scruple to show their sympathy, and declaim against the whole thing.

The train started, and the poor people were gone, and by this present writing are on Canadian soil, beyond the reach of nigger-hunters. There will scarcely be any difference of opinion in our community as to the propriety of this movement, but the origin and kind of sentiment is widely diverse. While the humane and right-minded will be glad that these are removed beyond the grasp of and collision with an odious law, there will be those of that class who believe that there is something malarious in the presence of free niggers, creating an atmosphere in which pork and beef cannot be cured and packed, and cereals and groceries sold, and these will breather freer since this hegira, in the removal of so many of the dreaded objects from our midst.––Chicago Tribune, April 9.


"The Colored Exodus!," Boston (MA) Liberator, April 26, 1861, p. 4.

Location of Stampede
Coverage Type
Via Wire Report
Location of Coverage- City
Location of Coverage- State
Contains Stampede Term